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A First-Time Buyer’s Guide to Stone Countertops

Though laminate countertops were once all the rage in decades past, engineered stone countertops recently surpassed them to become the most-used countertop material in America. Stone counters account for around 36% of countertop demand thanks to their natural looks and high quality.
In other words, you’re in good company if you’re feeling tempted by the gorgeous aesthetic of a stone countertop!
If you’re a first-time buyer, you may be wondering whether stone counters are worth the installation—and the price tag. After all, what sets these counters apart from their more artificial relatives?
We’ve got you covered. Here’s what to expect from different stone countertop materials, and how to start looking for the perfect fit for your kitchen.

Popular Types of Stone Countertops

First things first: let’s take a quick look at the types of countertop materials on offer, including some of the most attractive options on the market.


Granite Countertops

There’s no question that granite countertops are among the most popular options on this list. Granite counters come in an array of beautiful colors, patterns, and finishes, each with unique veining and swirls.
As the most durable type of stone countertop, granite counters are great for households that spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Granite has natural heat- and scratch-resistant properties, which boosts both its longevity and its resale value.

Quartzite Countertops

Quartzite countertops, offer the allure of natural stone, adding a timeless and elegant touch to your kitchen. As a natural material, each quartzite slab boasts unique patterns and veining, enhancing the aesthetic appeal of your space with its inherent beauty. While quartzite countertops lack the engineered consistency of quartz, they compensate with their organic charm and authenticity. With a wide array of colors and patterns available, you can easily find a quartzite slab to harmonize with your design vision. Unlike quartz, quartzite requires periodic sealing to protect against stains and etching, similar to granite. However, its durability rivals that of granite, making it a resilient option for high-traffic areas.

Marble Countertops

The unique look of marble adds timeless elegance and character to any kitchen. However, this soft, porous stone will require a bit more caution than granite or quartz, as it’s prone to staining and scratching with use. It offers mild heat resistance, but not as much as either granite or quartz.
Marble also comes at a higher price tag than the options above, at around $120 per square foot.

Other Natural Stone Countertops

While the three options above are among the most popular—as well as the easiest to get your hands on—you can also find other types of stone. Slate, limestone, soapstone, and even gemstone countertops are all great choices, but you may pay more for them.

Pros and Cons of Stone Countertops

As we’ve mentioned above, natural stone countertops are beloved for their stunning looks—but that doesn’t mean these options don’t have their own pros and cons. Here are a few factors to keep in mind as you weigh stone counters against options like laminate, butcher-block, or stainless steel counters.

Advantages of Stone Countertops

Stone countertops offer a distinctive and natural look that complements most kitchen styles. Even better, they come in a huge range of shades and patterns, meaning that you can customize the end result to fit your preferences.
Because the material these counters are made from is highly durable, you won’t often have to worry about damaging them with normal use. If you do end up with chips or scratches, these types of minor damage are easy for professionals to fix.
It’s also worth noting that stone countertops demand little upkeep, especially when compared to options like butcher-block. Basic stone countertop maintenance includes sealing the counter once every few months to years, depending on your chosen material.
Last, but certainly not least, most natural stone counters will last anywhere from a few decades to a lifetime. This means you won’t have to worry about replacing your investment for years to come.

Disadvantages of Stone Countertops

For many buyers, one of the biggest disadvantages is the price tag. Though the price will vary depending on the type of stone you’ve chosen, you can expect to spend more money on stone countertops than you would on other materials. Given their longevity, of course, it’s also worth noting that you won’t have to pay for replacement countertops for decades.
Though chips and scratches are easy to fix, some countertop materials—such as marble—are more prone to them than others. Worse, with a poor installation, especially if your counters don’t have balanced supports, they can be prone to cracking over time.

Tips for Buying Stone Countertops

Once you’ve settled on a type of stone, it’s time to start looking for your new counters. If this will be your first time buying these types of countertops, there are a few things to keep in mind.

Know Your Surface Area

Understanding the surface area of your countertops is crucial when planning any renovation or upgrade. By knowing the square footage, you can accurately estimate the cost of materials and labor involved. While your contractor will ultimately provide precise measurements, having a rough idea beforehand empowers you in decision-making.

To calculate your countertop’s square footage, you’ll need a measuring tape and some basic math skills. Begin by measuring the length and width of each countertop section in inches. Multiply these two measurements to get the area in square inches. For irregular shapes, break them down into smaller, more manageable sections to measure individually.

Once you have the area in square inches for each section, convert it to square feet by dividing by 144 (since there are 144 square inches in a square foot). Add up the square footage of all sections to get the total square footage for your countertops.

This preliminary calculation allows you to compare material costs based on square footage and make informed decisions according to your budget and preferences. However, remember that your contractor will conduct a professional measurement to ensure accuracy before proceeding with the project.

Visit a Showroom

Exploring online galleries provides a fantastic starting point for refining your preferences regarding the shade, pattern, and tone of your countertops. However, to truly assess how these options will complement your existing kitchen aesthetic, nothing beats a visit to a physical store.

When you go, it’s essential to bring along photos of your kitchen. These should encompass various angles, capturing your flooring, cabinets, and walls. Having these visual references on hand while browsing through countertop samples enables you to make more informed choices. Additionally, consider bringing samples of materials from your kitchen, such as a piece of your cabinet’s wood or a swatch of your wall paint. This allows you to directly compare potential countertop options with existing elements, ensuring a cohesive and harmonious overall look.

By combining online research with in-store visits and utilizing visual aids from your own kitchen, you can confidently select countertops that not only meet your aesthetic preferences but also harmonize seamlessly with your kitchen’s existing design elements.

Work With Reputable Installers

When you step into a showroom, not only do you get the opportunity to see the stone up close and envision how it might look in your kitchen, but you also gain access to invaluable expertise. Conversing with the installers or representatives at the showroom allows you to delve into their installation process. This dialogue can clarify any uncertainties you may have about the installation timeline, potential disruptions to your daily routine, and the care required post-installation.

Moreover, engaging in these conversations provides a chance to seek professional advice. Installers who have worked extensively with various materials can offer insights into the durability, maintenance requirements, and suitability of different countertop options for your specific needs and lifestyle. Their expertise can help you make informed decisions that align with your preferences and practical considerations.

When considering hiring an installation team, prioritize your comfort level with them. Trust is paramount when inviting individuals into your home to undertake a significant project like countertop installation. Ensure you feel confident in their abilities, communication style, and professionalism before proceeding.

Furthermore, it’s essential to partner with an installer who stands behind their work. A warranty not only safeguards your investment but also reflects the installer’s confidence in the quality of their craftsmanship. Should any issues arise post-installation, having a warranty in place provides peace of mind and recourse for necessary repairs or adjustments.

In summary, when embarking on a countertop installation project, don’t overlook the importance of the installation team. Take advantage of showroom visits to not only visualize the materials but also engage with the installers to assess their expertise and compatibility with your project. Prioritize hiring experienced professionals who offer warranties on their work, ensuring a smooth and satisfactory outcome for your countertops.

We carry hundreds of countertops in our warehouse in Phoenix.

Find the Perfect Stone Countertops for Your Kitchen

With plenty of materials, styles, and shades to choose from, stone countertops are a great addition to any kitchen. Of course, this variety can also make it tough to narrow down your options!
If you’re a first-time buyer, our team is here to help. Feel free to visit our Phoenix showroom to see our wide selection, or reach out to us today for a free in-home estimate.